This was unlike any other hostel I’ve ever stayed in. Simply put, this place was so unique, that I cannot even begin recommend it enough, but I’ll try. Everything from the guy who ran the hostel (Kári Viðarsson), to the isolated town of Rif, 2.5hr drive from Reykjavik, really puts The Freezer Hostel into a category of its own.
Freezer Hostel was the first place we planned to stay during our trip to Iceland, and having no idea anything about the region or the location, except for the fact it was on the coast, we made the journey up from Reykjavik to Rif by the end of our first day’s adventures. In my opinion, the map , seemed pretty clear and straightforward. There would be one major road would drop us right off into the town of Rif. Instead, it ended up being a windy gravel road that took us through the mountains, and then dropped us off on the coast (so much for shortest route). Even though we bottomed out our rental car a few times on deep potholes getting there, the view as we came over the mountains and saw point breaking waves crashing on the shore, easily put us in a great mood.
After making our way along the northern coast, we finally arrived into the “bustling” town of Rif. The town, at a glance, consisted of about 10 houses on the hill, two fishing factories, and a random assortment of empty buildings. Tucked behind a souvenir shop, stood a building with FREEZER painted on the side. We found it! The excitement built as we entered the front door, room by room, we wandered around. It was empty! Traveler’s bags and clothes were in some of the rooms; but overall, empty! This was quite strange, until a woman from the souvenir shop next door came in with a phone and gave it to me. There was a man on the other end who informed me that he would be back in a couple hours, so just make ourselves at home. And that we did!
TheFreezer Hostel has 3 rooms for travelers to stay in, bunking enough for 4 to 8 people. The best part of these rooms are the themes, from Sagas of Heathen Heaven to the Einstein room. Outside of the rooms lead into the communal kitchen which has everything you need to prepare and store food. Attached to the kitchen is the bathroom which has two sinks and two separate, but private, bathrooms (toilet/shower). The last room off the kitchen is a laundry room for those travelers sick and tired of wearing the same stinky gear all the time.
What really separates theFreezer Hostel is its atmosphere from the moment you walk in the door. This building used to be a fish factory that has been converted to a place to lay your head. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell like fish. After you pass through the kitchen, you will enter a large room that is filled with retro furniture, a tiki bar, old stereo equipment, endless CDs, and even a stage. While it’s listed as a hostel, most of the nights it is the host world class plays and musicians. Unfortunately we did not get to see any performances, but we did get to share some stories with other travelers, coming from England, Spain, and Canada. The most intriguing character was easily the hostel’s owner/manager, Kari, who was infatuated with American politics and having a great time. The hostel’s tiki bar had a fully stocked bar where some Icelandic beers could be purchased for about 9USD.
If you find yourself with some extra time or an extended stay in the area, the Freezer Hostel overlooks Snæfellsjökull Glacier National Park. We did not get to experience the wondrous park, but another traveler, John, spent the entire day hiking around the glacier’s base. And just 15minutes down the road is the larger, more populated, town of Ólafsvík; where you can find a restaurant, gas station, and most importantly a grocery store.
Epic time, but of course it had to come to an end. We had a reservation slot for Snorkeling the Silfra Rift at 9AM the following morning, so we headed off to bed around midnight and were up not even 5 hours later. As we packed up our gear, we emptied out all our food that we stored in the refrigerator from the night before, and then we were off. That morning though, we were greeted with the most exceptional sunrise over the ocean and mountains. Sure, Rif and the FH might seem out of the way, but its isolation makes for an unforgettable experience worth the visit.